ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research

12/01/2023 | Press release | Archived content

Relief for GPs, but Risk of Misuse // ZEW Economist Nicolas Ziebarth on Sick Notes by Phone

ZEW Economist Nicolas Ziebarth on Sick Notes by Phone

Professor Nicolas Ziebarth has commented on the plans by the government to allow telephone appointments for sick notes on a permanent basis.

From 7 December 2023, people in Germany will once again be able to obtain sick notes over the phone. The German government first introduced this measure temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic for respiratory illnesses. Now, it is set to become a permanent arrangement for all illnesses, as long as the patients are known to the doctor's office and do not have severe symptoms. Nicolas Ziebarth, head of the Research Unit "Labour Markets and Social Insurance" at ZEW Mannheim and professor at the University of Mannheim, has commented on this matter:

"Introducing sick notes over the phone on a permanent basis is, in principal, a welcome measure. It eases the workload on GP practices and reduces the risk of infection in packed waiting rooms. This contributes to streamlining processes in the health care system. However, a low-threshold service also increases the risk of shirking. This could result in higher costs for employers and lead to shortages in work processes. Therefore, it is necessary to scientifically evaluate the use and effects of sick notes via phone on the job market in order to adjust the regulation in the future based on knowledge."